“The Holy Contour of Life”: Channeling Kerouac for Inspiration

When I was in college, I earned my one and only A+ grade on anything I did in those years for a paper I wrote for a class called Modern American Thought and Culture.  The paper was titled something like “On the Road: The Life-Giving Search of Post-War America.”  (That’s not exactly it….but it’s close enough.  It’s around here somewhere.)

Doing research for this paper was when I discovered Jack Kerouac, and neither I nor my approach to writing has ever been quite the same.  For those gearing up to write an essay for Esse Diem, as well as for anyone else seeking inspiration, it doesn’t get much better than this from the Road Warrior himself.

Yes, there is not much doubt that Jack consumed a tremendous amount of alcohol, and I can’t exactly advocate for that.   But the man was true to himself, and that I can whole-heartedly recommend.  Some of these lines I just want to carve on my heart.

    List of Essentials 

    Jack Kerouac
  • Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  • Submissive to everything, open, listening
  • Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  • Be in love with yr life
  • Something that you feel will find its own form
  • Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  • Blow as deep as you want to blow
  • Write what you want bottomless from bottom of mind
  • The unspeakable visions of the individual
  • No time for poetry but exactly what is
  • Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  • In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  • Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  • Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  • Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  • The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  • Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  • Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  • Accept loss forever
  • Believe in the holy contour of life
  • Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  • Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  • Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  • No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  • Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  • Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  • In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  • Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  • You’re a Genius all the time
  • Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

As ever,

    Jack Kerouac “Belief & Technique For Modern Prose: List of Essentials” from a 1958 letter to Don Allen, in Heaven & Other Poems, copyright © 1958, 1977, 1983. Grey Fox Press.

    Post reference/source:  Creative Writing Exercises to Cure Writer’s Block via StumbleUpon.  I’m not personally a big fan of “writing prompts” but I found this on my first foray into StumbleUpon and I have to say I’ll be back!  Consider www.languageisavirus.com as a new bookmark.